Celebrating Chanukah: The Hidden Light, Revealed based on the writing of Rabbi Ami Silver
Creation begins with light. The third verse of the Torah says, "God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light."According to the rabbis, this light was so powerful that it enabled a person “to see from one end of the universe to the other.” The story continues to say that when God saw the human potential for wickedness and cruelty, He hid the special light, preserving it for the righteous at some future time. This light is called the “Hidden Light” of Creation.
Questions to think about:
  • If light is a metaphor for knowledge, what might a light that allows you to see "from one end of the universe to the other" represent?
  • If you had access to the Hidden Light, what mystery of human nature would you like illuminated?
Kabbalistic and Chassidic writings identify Chanukah as a time in which this Hidden Light takes center stage. During “the festival of lights”, we are given special access to the Hidden Light, and the candles that we light during this time of year represent a way of making contact with the original light of Creation.
Rav Tzvi Elimelech Spiro (1783-1841) was a Chassidic Rebbe and the author of Bnei Yissaschar. In the following text he makes the connection between the Hidden Light and the Chanukah menorah.
כסל"ו. עיין להלן במאמרים הבאים הגם של או"ר המנור"ה אשר בחדש הזה הי' מבחי' אור הגנו"ז שנגנז בתורה... שע"כ ניתקנו ל"ו נרות כנגד ל"ו או"ר ונ"ר ומאורו"ת שנזכרו בתורה הוא רמיזת אור הגנוז ששימש ל"ו שעות לאדה"ר ואח"כ נגנז ונתכסה בתורה
The miracle of the light of the Menorah during this month is derived from the hidden light that was concealed within the Torah. ... for this reason they instituted [a total of] thirty-six candles, to parallel the thirty-six times that “light” “candle” and “luminaries” are mentioned in the Torah, which hints to the hidden light that shined for the first human being for thirty-six hours but was then hidden away and concealed within the Torah.
Questions to think about:
  • Each subsequent night of Chanukah adds more light to the world as we light a greater number of candles. Reflect on your feelings as you light each night. Does the last night feel different from the first? In what way?
  • When have you felt an encounter with something incredibly vast and deep? Does it have to be “visible” for it to feel real?
  • What is something that helps you see “the big picture”, that opens you up to a broader perspective about life? Do you want to make space for more of that vision in your life? What are some ways that you can bring that perspective a bit closer to your heart and mind - practices, activities, relationships etc. that can help make that perspective more accessible?

Chanukah Music!

Enjoy this gorgeous, modern rendering of the Chassidic Breslov tune to “Maoz Tzur,” recorded by Nehora and Hadas Yisraeli. The verse relating to Chanukah is written below.
יְוָנִים נִקְבְּצוּ עָלַי אֲזַי בִּימֵי חַשְׁמַנִּים. וּפָרְצוּ חוֹמוֹת מִגְדָּלַי וְטִמְּאוּ כָּל הַשְּׁמָנִים. וּמִנּוֹתַר קַנְקַנִּים נַעֲשָׂה נֵס לַשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים. בְּנֵי בִינָה יְמֵי שְׁמוֹנָה קָבְעוּ שִׁיר וּרְנָנִים.
The Grecians were gathered against me in the days of the Hasmoneans; they broke down the walls of my towers, and defiled all the oils; but from one of the last remaining flasks a miracle was wrought for thy beloved, and their men of understanding appointed these eight days for song and praises.